Paul Maurice did not have much to complain about when it came to officiating Thursday night as the Florida Panthers took full advantage of some sloppy play by the Montreal Canadiens.
The Panthers scored four — yeah, four — power play goals in the second period alone as backup goalie Alex Lyon was forced into action and was terrific in a 6-2 win over the Canadiens.
The four power play goals tied a franchise record (1998) for most scored in a single period.
Florida has now won six of its past nine (6-2-1) as it went 2-0-1 on this northern road trip with wins in Buffalo and Montreal and an overtime loss in Toronto — you know, the one Maurice got fined $25,000 for ripping the officiating afterward.
Lyon had to be good early as he stopped seven shots in the opening period after Sergei Bobrovsky left with a lower-body injury.
Lyon came in with the Canadiens on a power play but it was the Panthers who would cash in with the man advantage later on.
After a scoreless first, the dam opened up on the Canadiens in the second as the Panthers scored twice in a span of two minutes and then closed the period with three more goals.
Matthew Tkachuk scored twice on the power play in the second with Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett also getting goals.
Givani Smith was the only guy to score in 5-on-5 play as he made it 4-0 with 3:57 left in the second. It is his first goal with the Panthers.
Ryan Lomberg scored his sixth of the season in the third.
Aside from Bobrovsky, Florida was also without Eric Staal as he was knocked out from a big hit delivered by former Florida defenseman Mike Matheson.
Actually, Maurice probably called foul on Matheson not being hit with an interference call on that hit — but aside from that, no complaints despite both penalty boxes being subject to fines from the local fire marshal during the third.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Panthers 1, Canadiens 0 (6:30, 2nd): Sam Reinhart cashed in with just 5 seconds left in the power play as he followed up on a Sasha Barkov shot.
- Panthers 2, Canadiens 0 (8:27, 2nd): The Canadiens challenged the previous goal saying Matthew Tkachuk interfered with Sam Montembeault. The officials reviewing it disagreed and the Panthers went back on the power play. Sam Bennett scored in the waning seconds of it, knocking in a shot from Gus Forsling.
- Panthers 3, Canadiens 0 (14:58, 2nd): The Panthers got their third power play goal of the period as Tkachuk scores despite having the blade of his left skate come out.
- Panthers 4, Canadiens 0 (16:03, 2nd): Finally, a 5-on-5 goal, eh? Givani Smith got this one started with a big wrist shot from the right circle — and then finished it by getting his own rebound and putting it home.
- Panthers 5, Canadiens 0 (19:17, 2nd): Tkachuk gets another one (with both skates on the ice) as Florida closes the book on a historic second-period with the man advantage.
- Panthers 5, Canadiens 1 (2:12, 3rd) Rem Pitlick drove in and fired an odd-angled shot that appeared to clip Radko Gudas’ stick on its way past Alex Lyon.
- Panthers 5, Canadiens 2 (8:06, 3rd): The Canadiens got a little life when Josh Anderson scored on Montreal’s fourth shot of the period.
- Panthers 6, Canadiens 2 (9:11, 3rd): That life was shortlived, however, as Ryan Lomberg got in behind the defense and scored his sixth of the season off a nice feed from Carter Verhaeghe.
GIVANI SMITH AT HOME IN FLORIDA
The Panthers took a bit of a flier on Smith when they acquired him in a three-team trade before Christmas, but the former Detroit prospect has flourished in Florida.
Smith continues to impress in a fourth-line role with the Panthers.
Not only is Smith not afraid to mix it up, but he now has three points — one of which coming off his first goal in the second period — in 10 games with the Panthers.
Smith did not get much of a chance for a second goal as he took a 10-minute misconduct at the end of the second period when he mixed it up with Arber Xhekaj. The two also took a spin with 7:14 left.
THE MONTREAL PENALTIES
While the Canadiens may want to complain about the lopsided penalties in the second period, they really have themselves to blame.
Late in the second, the Canadiens were slapped with not just one but a pair of too-many-men on the ice; one came on a challenge that did not hold. Montreal also got called for hooking and cross-checking in the second.
Florida was 4-for-7 on the power play through the first two periods and was outshooting the Canadiens 33-17 through 40.
Per the NHL, Tkachuk did not interfere with Montembeault as the Situation Room — isn’t that a show on CNN? — supported “the Referees’ call on the ice that the contact … had no bearing on the puck entering the net, therefore it did not constitute goaltender interference.”
TKA VS. MATTY
Matheson knew something would be coming after his hit on Staal and took a few hits as the game wore on.
At 5:58 of the third, he and Tkachuk went at it at center ice.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Alex Lyon, Florida (win in relief, 23 saves)
2. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida (2 goals)
3. Sam Reinhart, Florida (goal, 2 assists)
PANTHERS ON DECK
MINNESOTA WILD AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- All-time regular season series: Minnesota leads 18-8-2, 1 tie
- Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at New York Rangers, 7 p.m.